News Release

Generations Connect Through Personal Histories and Life Stories

Families in Africa are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.

That "hunger" is growing throughout the world. People are discovering that to understand better who they are, they must know the stories of family members who went before them. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those who have a desire to connect in a personal way across generations by researching their family history, gathering written personal histories, preserving oral histories and recording interviews of the life experiences of elderly family members for the benefit of posterity.

Mormons believe the family is ordained of God. They also believe the family is the fundamental unit of society and central to God’s eternal plan for His children. This belief impels older members of the Church to share the important, life-changing moments of their lives with children and grandchildren who, upon hearing and preserving these experiences, develop a stronger sense of family and belonging. With the knowledge of their forbearers’ accounts of strength over adversity, children and grandchildren become better equipped to overcome difficult challenges in their own lives.

“As we contemplate what those before us have gone through that we might be here, as we sense their faith and courage and feel their love for us and our love for them, we realize what is really important,” said former Church leader Elder John H. Groberg to a worldwide conference of Latter-day Saints in 1980. “We realize that so-called problems are only what we see when we take our eye off our eternal goal.”

Latter-day Saints focus on their family history for another reason — their belief that families can be together after this life. They research names and other information so sacred ceremonies and rites can be performed in behalf of their ancestors in Latter-day Saint temples, thereby exercising faith that they will be linked to loved ones as an eternal family.

Mormon youth worldwide are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” said Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church.

Examples of such tools are the Family Tree and Memories features recently launched by FamilySearch. The new Memories feature allows users to easily upload and manage family photos online and to tell their favorite ancestor stories. With photos, faces can be identified and linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree, ensuring they will be accessible for future generations. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.

The Family History Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently hosted three guests from the Democratic Republic of Congo: Mr. Boniface Okende - General Secretary at the Ministry Of the Interior in DRC, Mr. Lutumba - General Secretary to the Ministry of Art and Culture in DRC and Madam Doodoo Lanza - Deputy Director to the National Archive in DRC - Kinshasa. These three guests from the DRC were here to investigate the Church's capability to digitize and preserve records. The Church has offered to digitize the records in DRC as they are doing in several other countries. 

The group from the DRC enjoyed going through the Familysearch Program with the Manager of Family History in Southeast Africa, Wayne Van As, assisted by Family History Missionary, Ruth Naylor. Sister Naylor commented, "These guests loved working on their genealogy at our Familysearch Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa - especially Madam Lanza."

Madam Lanza commented, “I have a very large family, which makes it difficult to know all of them; but through this program, I can start with the one that I know and continue my search with other family members in order to know all of them. How wonderful that my children may know their great and great-great grandparents. I believe this knowledge will provide inspiration and help in understanding which path they will follow in life." Everyone was excited to find their own families through Familysearch and were happy to know that they would be able to continue searching the Familysearch site when they returned to the Congo. She added, “Getting our records available online so that people can start working on finding their ancestors will be very helpful in gathering the family together.”





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